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"Strategic planning is a practice which allows members of an organization to envisage its future and build up the required measures and operations to accomplish that which is desired." (Pfeiffer et al.1986) .Strategic planning is also "a practice of defining the standards, rationale, image, operation, goals and purpose of an organization. (Rothwell, 1989) Through the development process, a authority or agency identifies the product it wants to attain through its agenda and the precise way by which it plans to attain these results." In this process an organization not only identifies with its long term goals but also tries and determines the best and most efficient approach that could fulfill its aspirations.
Strategic planning helps us in answering key questions such as; where do we stand at the moment? How did we come to this point? Where would we like to be? How will we get there? Are we on the right track? And in answering these questions we come to discuss the key elements of strategic planning.
When discussing where we stand, we are accessing the current situation of our organization. This involves an audit which analysis internal and external factors that affect the performance of any organization. This analysis is known as the SWOT analysis which identifies the possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats present for the organization (the former two being internal where as the latter being external). When talking about strengths, a mobile phone manufacturer and retailer has many in terms of marketing, service system, reliability, quality, finance, location and an overall good brand image. As an organization operating in a market which is at the verge of reaching the point of saturation, the provision of good quality customer care is vital. An impressive marketing plan which helps create a brand image, reliability and brand loyalty are a few strengths which our organization enjoys. In the weaknesses one cannot help but include the financial difficulties our organization faces in keeping up to date with the latest machinery and training of the workforce. Great opportunities lie in the department of research and development which will lead to diversification in the product portfolio. The global industry of our product can be placed on the growth element of the business cycle. This will allow us to operate in more than the few countries we currently operate in and dig out new uses from the mobile phone. One of the major threats surrounding our organization is due to the current world recession, which has led to the fall in the general standard of living for many and the rise in production costs. Another threat is that caused by the changes in demographic trends and rapid changes in tastes and fashion which results in products and technologies becoming obsolete. The SWOT analysis helps provide a clear cut picture of where the organization stands and where it could be. It is brief however one can not overlook the fact that if it is being made by an employee of the organization it might be subject to bias.
While analyzing the current situation of the organization, the managers and strategic planners are in reality listing down and determining the strategies and objectives for the organization's future. The organization is affected, not only by internal factors but when making any sort of decision it also takes into account the external factors. Situational analysis involves the study of external factors such as the markets, competition, technology, supplier markets, labor markets, they economy etc. Studying the environment on an internal as well as an external level gives the organization a great opening to identify with the threats and the opportunities surrounding it. Where we stand today is a result of our planning and dedication in the past. With the hopes and positive aura produced by our achievements, there is also the fear of being victimized by the paralysis by analyzing. Paralysis by analysis is that the failure of managers to carry out important decisions due to fixation with meetings, producing reports, and collecting figures for analysis. Paralysis of effective decision making in organizations can occur when there is level disagreement, disparity between different hierarchical levels, or vague objectives. (qfinance.com)
This can also result from the difficulty created by the situation at hand or the inability to take risks due to over thinking and excessive planning rather than acting. However regular stress checks, training programs and conferences help keep our organizations work force intact. Conferences regarding latest technological trends and consumer preferences will also help freshen and broaden the view of our workforce enabling them to innovate and stylize technology.
Vision and Mission
When discussing the question of where our organization wants to be, we come face to face with one of our most major objectives, which is to become the leading providers of mobile solutions. Under this element of the process of strategic planning we develop certain objectives for the organization. These are basically aims and goals that the organization wishes and strives to achieve. For us these goals can revolve around technology (better touch screens, availability of office software in our mobile software, easier and user friendly graphical interface), better skilled workforce, better trained managers, efficient distribution of resources, better marketing strategies (more captivation ad campaign) and so on and so forth. (business dictionary.com)
In this element an organization also develops a vision and a mission. A mission statement is "a sentence describing a company's function, markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies." (entrepreneurship.com). A mission statement basically states what the organization stands for, what is the purpose of its existence, who are the targeted customers, the entire product range and also the location (geographical) on which the organization operates.
A vision statement on the other hand is an "inspiring portrayal of what an organization would like to attain or complete in the mid or long run. It is proposed to serve as an apparent point for choosing present and future routes of action." (qfinance.com)
However when planning out the goals, missions and visions one has to make sure that they are realistic, time bound, measurable and specific. If they are vague and far from reality, that is they are financially or in terms of managing skills, impossible to achieve then the result is wastage of resources.
Strategy and Tactics
Next the organization must set its strategy which is the medium it will adopt in the long run for the fulfillment of the objectives that the company has set out for itself. These are often carefully thought of and well integrated. A successful strategy is one that allows the organization to achieve all of its aspired goals without going over budget. Moreover a strategy is successful if the results it produces are of quality and are beneficial in the long run. Many organizations in the hope of better results, follows a particular tactic of breaking down its objectives into smaller targets for different divisions of the work force. However there are those (managers and supervisors) who implement and keep a check on the overall application of the strategies. (tutor2u.net)
Effective communication forms part of the foundation which leads to the achievement of the objectives. Thankfully our organization has a very impressive communication system. Keeping regular meetings and conferences can boast up the morale of the workforce as these forums remind them of the particular role that they are playing (clarification of job objectives) and how it helps in the generation of the greater picture, which is the overall running of the entire organization. This part of the planning process basically answers short term questions like; what is to be done? What is the method being used? Who is responsible? When is it to be completed? These are usually short run tasks like collection of statistics or creation of a database and are usually headed by the head of that particular department.
The hierarchal system followed by the organization also has a great impact on the overall performance of the company. The most ideal form of hierarchy (that our organization must also follow) is the line workers managed by the lime manager who is headed by the head of the department. In this the gap between the upper and the lower class workers is not that wide. Hence the morale of the workers is high and the work environment is friendly resulting in a more efficient and eager work force.
Monitor and control
The last part of the procedure calls for monitoring and controlling which revolves around the act of keeping a check if the company is heading on the right track. It is to make sure that the strategies are working, the budget is carefully managed, the work force is efficient, the resources are being utilized productively and the managers have no lost track of the company's objectives. Obtaining feedback is a great way to inquire about the former issues and since our organization has a very impressive communication system collecting feedback will not be an issue. Feedback not only helps us inquire about what we want but also helps locate if there is any hindrance in any other part of the organization. Feedback can be collected in the form of group discussions or one to one talks or even by simply keeping a comment box. Another very vital factor that falls here is that of consumer feedback. Conducting a market analysis will allow us to ensure that the consumers have achieved what they desired and expected from the product. We'll also learn of the features that they would want a mobile phone to have and also the problems they face in operating them. Consumer feedback will allow us to go over the matter externally. When both internal and external feedbacks have been collected, the results of these will be compared to the initial goal that was set. Now the organization can measure its performance and locate the errors and mismanagement which will then be subject to correction. Other ways of measuring the performance of your organization is through the financial conditions and also through employee satisfaction levels.
In this part of the procedure the managers usually come across with a number of errors, big and small. When needed by modifying the plan, strategies and tactics and by taking corrective action we will ensure that the organization stays determined on its course in order to fulfill its objectives and goals. The results from this year's plan will be fed in the next and will allow gaining a competitive edge. This will allow a great flow of information and experience. It will cut costs too, increase efficiency and enable us to fix errors as soon as they are detected instead of waiting for the end of the business year.
Other types of analysis that can form part of your strategic plan are the PEST analysis which is the Political, Economical, Sociological and Technological analysis, STEER analysis which is the Socio-cultural, Technological, Economical, Ecological and Regulatory factors, EPISTEL which is the Environment, Political, Informatics, Social, Technological, Economic and Legal analysis.
Over the years there has been much advancement in technology. The pace at which science has progressed in the last ten years is remarkable and never before had it been so fast and innovative in its inventions and discoveries. Today technologies such as MMS, GPRS, WAP, GSM, high resolution cameras are common in almost all the mobile phones being introduced.
This technological breakthrough has impacted most of the strategies and management tactics of most of the companies especially those operating in the field of consumer electronics. Technology changes the way we do business. Technology has intensified everything that surrounds the business from the attractiveness of the market to the power of the buyers, strength of the new entrants, fear of better substitutes, power of the suppliers and the magnitude of competition.
This technological revolution has also magnified the need for skilled labor. Therefore training and conducting workshops has become an essential part of every organization's plan. Every organization tries to sieve out the best of the best and then dedicates itself to train the work force for promising results. Another very important concept that in importance surpasses all the others is that of cost cutting. The consumers want the latest bit of technology at a reasonable price. The world recession has drowned the standard of living for many around the globe and therefore to keep up to date with the increased competition in every field of life, the need for affordable technology has magnified.
The best that our organization can keep on the right track and at a good pace is by producing user friendly, comprehensive, affordable and stylish mobile phones. Also the branding and marketing should be planned out according to the targeted markets (in our case this is the segment of the business running professionals). Another very important tactic is that of diversifying into the market. Our organization can branch out into the production of personal computers and laptops to strengthen its roots in this business.
The only way that the former statements and suggestions can be brought out into practice is through effective management. Effective and planned out management of the resources at hand can lead any organizations to the highest peaks of success. A good manager guides and supervises for the sake of success not for the boasting of authority and control, he or she refrains from intervention except at times when deviation is clearly evident, he or she never loses their focus from the strategic goals of the company, they allow a free flow of feedback and make their subordinates feel comfortable in the work place, they don't monitor on a macro level rather on a micro one so they know exactly what is going on, also they focus and work hard to avoid being victimized by the paralysis through analysis.
Today the entire industry of consumer electronics is in a tight struggle to win over the competition. Everyday new mobile phone companies are emerging and therefore we require a great amount of resistance to survive the tough times.
No matter how well established and successful a company is, without a good strategic plan, efficient management, skilled workforce, up to date technology, flexible operation styles, financial strength, imagination and creativity and a good market understanding, it can come crashing down on its knees. Therefore to make a mark a company should have the good sense to avoid its threats, overcome its weaknesses, make good use of its strengths and grab its opportunities.